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Engineering Council and Poly smoke peace pipe

2013-08-15  Mathias Haufiku

Engineering Council and Poly smoke peace pipe
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RUNDU - The Engineering Council of Namibia (ECN) and the Polytechnic of Namibia have reached an agreement over the prolonged dispute that saw the 2012 engineering graduates unable to register with the professional council earlier this year. ECN President Markus von Jeney has confirmed that the council has endorsed a supplementary learning programme developed by the Polytechnic of Namibia for the bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and that the dispute is now resolved. The Polytechnic has agreed to offer the remedial civil engineering courses to the affected students, which are to be offered in August and in a period between November and December at no cost to the graduates. “The Polytechnic agreed with our conditions and they submitted the outstanding curriculum content which we approved. There were no differences, [what] the Polytechnic had to do was to adhere to the set standards and conditions with regard to its curriculum,” said von Jeney. With this latest development, von Jeney said Polytechnic civil engineering graduates could now register as professional engineers-in-training upon completion of their degree course requirements. The 2012 civil engineering graduates from the Polytechnic were in limbo over their future as engineers, while the Polytechnic and the ECN engaged in a subtle boardroom squabble on what to do with the graduates who studied a curriculum that the two institutions had realised was not up to international standards. The 16 engineering graduates of the 2012 academic year found themselves stranded, confused and frustrated over whether the Polytechnic or the ECN would compensate them for their losses. New students were not affected since the ECN has endorsed the revised bachelor of civil engineering degree programme. The Polytechnic had said the ECN only pointed out the shortcomings in the curriculum “towards the end of 2012” after engaging the Engineering Council of South Africa in 2010 and “when the first cohort of graduates submitted their applications to ECN for registration.” The curriculum has been in use since 2008, and the Polytechnic is adamant the curriculum was submitted to ECN for scrutiny in 2008 already. The ECN defended its stance saying the Polytechnic should simply “adhere to the set standards”, adding that it is about to link its standards to the Washington Accord, hence it has to ensure that anyone who is registered meets those international standards. The ECN had refused to register graduates as professional engineers-in-training, but rather as incorporated engineers-in-training, because specialisation in civil engineering sub-disciplines was embedded early on in the curriculum. “In the beginning they set up a curriculum which we could not accept in its initial form because they wanted to make it a career path from a technician to the honours level. But the learning content from a diploma, bachelor of technology and bachelor of science is on a different basis. The learning programme for technicians has limited science content involved, just enough to allow them to do their work, while the bachelor of science has the maximum number of science content involved. You cannot jump from the level of a technician to honours,” he explained. Von Jeney said the full programme has reached a stage where the supplementary learning is accepted and once the Polytechnic includes it in its bachelor of civil engineering programme everything would be just fine. Polytechnic director for marketing and communication, Kaitira Kandjii, last week told New Era: “The Polytechnic has consulted the students and all graduates of the old curriculum and they have embraced the initiative and are willing to fully participate in the delivery of these courses. Additionally, the institution has prepared letters to the employers of these students to allow them to attend all lecture sessions … It is also agreed that the ECN will recognise the additional credits to be acquired by the graduates and will consequently place them at the appropriate engineering membership category; these credits will be complemented by the field/practical training they have undergone,” he said. 14 Aug 2013 - Story by Mathias Haufiku
2013-08-15  Mathias Haufiku

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